The Burnouts

The Burnouts by Lex Thomas Read Free Book Online

Book: The Burnouts by Lex Thomas Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lex Thomas
you pussies. You know that’s the only way. You’re just too blind to see it.”
    David patted Will on the back.
    “Let’s go,” he said. It took a little tug, but he got Will to walk away from the wall.
    “You’re gonna kill us all,” Bertie said to their backs.
    David could feel the tension in Will’s back, the urge to turn, but he kept walking.
    “Ya hear me?” Bertie shouted.
    “We did a heck of a job on that fence,” David said to drown Bertie out.
    Will looked up at the farm wall and the razor-wire-lined chain-link fence that gleamed atop it. Three crows sat along the fence not far from the front gate. The gate doors, which were welded patchworks of rusted sheet metal, wavy aluminum siding, and a few road signs, looked more like folk art, but they were as high as a castle gate.
    “You mean
I
did a heck of a job,” Will said. “All you did was ‘supervise.’ ”
    “Somebody’s gotta be the brains in this family,” David said. He laughed and tapped his eye patch. “Besides, I’m handicapped.”
    “Yeah, when it’s handy.”
    David laughed again. The three crows flew from their perch, making the razor wire tremble at their takeoff. The guard on the wall, Mr. Miller, a bald man in green sweatpants, who had been David’s music teacher in elementary school, turned to face the farm. He mumbled in a panic, then called out to the others, “Uh, someone’s coming!”
    Bertie didn’t miss a beat from his cage. “They’re coming for me! I told ya, didn’t I? Ya bastards. Didn’t I say? They’re coming for me!”
    Will shared a nervous look with David.
    There was a rush to the wall from all over the farm. Parents wove through the labyrinth of single-lane paths that cut around the crops and gardens. Those closest to the wall were quick to get up it, with weapons ready. Jason Howard was already at Mr. Miller’s side. He climbed to the metal bridge that passed over the gate and was also a checkpoint for interaction with anyone outside. Sam’s dad began to talk to someone unseen below, on the other side of the wall.
    David and Will passed the hog pen, and David snatched up a shovel that was leaning against the fence. He choked up tight on the tool, not quite sure what he was ready for, but ready nonetheless. Sam’s dad turned back to face the farm.
    “Open the gate.”
    David loosened up on the shovel. The parents nearest the gate unfastened the chain that was looped through its giant iron handles. They pulled the doors open. A black minivan idled in the drive. Its paint was flecked with white dings, and an ugly smash had pushed the custom grille guard up on one side, giving it a crooked smile. Five wide metal slats ran across the windshield and side windows like protective venetian blinds.
    With a rev, the van cruised in. The parents shut the doorbehind it. The van stopped, the driver-side door swung open, and a giant figure stepped out. The van seemed to sigh at the relief of no longer carrying its tremendous driver. The guy lifted a thick hand and gave David and Will a wave.
    “Is that …?” Will said.
    Gonzalo. The ax-wielding Loner who could scare a Varsity with a sneer. He was even bigger than he used to be. He towered over the van, his shoulders level with its roof. David hadn’t seen him in months. His hair was still a frizzy mop that hid his face, but it was shorter. He’d cut off the white.
    David stabbed the shovel into the ground, and the brothers hurried to their old friend.
    “Big man! Where you been?” David said.
    “Up north,” Gonzalo said.
    “Did you find her?” David said.
    Gonzalo shook his head, jutting his jaw in disappointment.
    “Find who?” Will said. “Hold on, you two have seen each other since McKinley?”
    It was a long story, and from a period that David had been avoiding telling Will about. A memory he wanted to forget. After he’d broken out of McKinley and escaped the hunters, he’d decided to head east, away from the Rockies, hoping that if he

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